Brimstone Bound by Helen Harper

Series: Book 1 of The Firebrand Series
Publication date: 3 September 2020

“There’s nothing quite as satisfying as curling up on the sofa with a glass of red wine and chatting to your boyfriend about the best way to bring down a snarling six-foot-tall bloke armed with a machete.”

This is the opening paragraph of Helen Harper latest gem, Brimstone Bound, and the reason that she had me laughing out loud within half a page of the start of the book.

Helen Harper has been one of my favourite authors ever since I read my very first urban fantasy, Gifted Thief (book 1 of the Highland Magic Series). By the end of that series I was hooked on urban fantasy as well as books by the author (if you haven’t read the Highland Magic series you’re missing out – funniest characters ever!). And I’m happy to say, Brimstone Bound easily lived up to expectations.

The opening paragraph is our heroine, Emma Bellamy (trainee detective), as she is sitting recounting her day to her boyfriend Jeremy (overly protective accountant). The pair then proceed to reenact the battle, dueling with a butter knife & a rolled up magazine.

One of the best things about Helen Harper’s books, I believe, is her attention to the small details. For me, this is where the magic happens. Such as in the description of Emma and Jeremy, as they ‘battled’. Emma “…gave him the butter knife, which still had crumbs clinging to its dull blade, and stepped back about six paces.” “Jeremy grinned, swishing the butter knife from side to side before letting out what could only be described as a remarkably feeble attempt at a roar.”

If you’re anything like me, by the time I had finished reading that scene I was imagining crumbs flinging around as they battled, and hearing Jeremy making a weird sort of croaking warble noise. All through the book there are vivid descriptions and to me, it really brought the story off the page and into my imagination.

When we first meet Emma, she has two weeks of training to go until she is able to graduate from trainee to detective. Her last rotation has been in the Criminal Investigations Dept, and she believes she will be going to Cyber Crime to complete her last two weeks.

But Emma gets a nasty surprise when is instead sent to ‘Supes’ – Supernatural Squad. Emma talks over the surprise placement with her best friend & fellow trainee Molly, who asks “Isn’t that what we were told in our first week? That the poor sods in Supes are the ones who haven’t quite screwed up badly enough to be fired, or who are already well on their way to retirement.”

This description sets the tone for the Supes department & when she meets her new co-workers, they aren’t really doing much to change her first impression. But when Emma finds herself in trouble and being attacked at the end of her first day, things really heat up.

Next thing you know, Emma wakes up in the morgue after being murdered! But she’s not dead. How is this possible? That’s the big question!

I’ll leave the story from here for you to read. But I will tell you that while investigating, Emma meets Lucas, a vampire, who helps her with her case. I really liked his character. He’s a bit arrogant with a touch of smug, but he’s also gentle, considerate and a little mysterious. Is there a little chemistry there between Lucas and Emma? I’ll leave that for you to decide.

I really enjoyed Emma’s character. She is smart and sassy & I found myself genuinely liking her. And it didn’t hurt that her internal musings could provide some entertaining moments of wit, such as when Emma said she was “… considering going the whole hog, so to speak, and becoming vegan.” (I’m a big fan of a bit of clever humour.)

I have talked a couple of times about the humour in this book, but that’s not to say that this is a comedy. It can be rather dark in tone, which fits the story perfectly, but it still has some fantastic moments of amusement thrown into the mix.

Thank you to the author and Booksprout, for giving me a copy of this book in return for an honest review.

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